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MEXICAN SUMMER

Weyes Blood

Cardamom Times - 5th Anniversary Edition

    • On vinyl for the first time since its first sold-out pressing in 2015, the fifth anniversary of Weyes Blood’s (Natalie Mering) warm and elegiac record, Cardamom Times, is celebrated with a deluxe Dinked edition.

    • Since the EP’s release, Weyes Blood’s Front Row Seat to Earth (Mexican Summer, 2016) and Titanic Rising (Sub Pop, 2019) were both named Best New Albums by Pitchfork, with the latter making multiple Best Albums of 2019 lists, including The Guardian, Pitchfork, and The Independent. Different from these elaborate albums, Cardamom Times was recorded onto reel-to-reel tape at Mering’s home studio in Rockaway Beach, New York.

    • The songs of Cardamom Times demonstrate Mering’s reverence of devotional music and the avant-garde, channeling the domestic hymns of Sybille Baer through the lens of Baltimore’s experimental DIY scene; the minimal, melodic drones of Terry Riley accompanied by the voices of the Sacre Coeur; the confrontational words of Anaïs Nin along with the warm embrace of St. Augustine.

    • This anniversary edition of Cardamom Times features reimagined cover art with the focal image of a desolate paradise during sunset — Jamaica Bay in Queens, NY surrounded by rust. A couple is laying on the ground, caught in a comfort beyond time. With Cardamom Times, Mering invites listeners into that space of love and longing, struggle and change, surrounded by the decay of time that perpetually embraces us.


    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Dinked Edition LP Info: • Exclusive transparent Blue vinyl *
    • New 2020 edition sleeve
    • Exclusive fold out 12” x 24” poster *
    • Dinked Archive OBI-strip *
    • Dinked Archive gold foil sticker *

    *Exclusive to Dinked Edition.

    LP Info: Black vinyl edition.

    Photay

    Waking Hours

      It's 2020, and everyone is exhausted. The world is falling apart, and then there's the day-today stress of just existing in the modern world. Keeping up with everything feels impossible, and we all feel that neverending push to always be productive, inspiration and motivation be damned. For NYC artist Photay (a.k.a. Evan Shornstein), none of this is particularly conducive to living a healthy existence, let alone being creative, but he's decided to face it head on.

      Waking Hours, his second full-length (following 2017's Onism), is a meditation on time and, more specifically, our obsessive need to fill every moment with activity. "It's about getting back to a really simple notion of just celebrating your existence and not necessarily attaching this huge story of who you are and what you do," he says. "It's about finding comfort in just being." Photay's search for calm is at the very core of Waking Hours, and while he admits that making the album was therapeutic, it shouldn't be mistaken for some sort of healing ambient excursion.

      The LP is largely electronic, but frequently verges on pop and extensively features Shornstein's own vocals. The music is intimate and inviting, but it also suggests that Photay is perhaps at his best when he's blurring genre boundaries. "I really truly love so many different types of music," he says, "and for this album I opened things up and gave myself the freedom to go anywhere."

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive white vinyl version.

      Paint

      Spiritual Vegas

        Having first made his mark as a songwriter and guitarist for Los Angeles’ Allah-Las, Pedrum Siadatian has etched out a place of his own with his solo work as PAINT. What started as modest 4-track experiments quickly took on a life of their own as Pedrum began distilling his musical and lyrical inspirations into something both timeless and new. His miniature menagerie of light-psych and proto-punk gems had outgrown their cassette cage and were now ready to be heard.

        PAINT’s eponymous debut (Mexican Summer, 2018) appeared out of the ether, fully formed. It was praised for its originality and drew favorable comparisons to the likes of Kevin Ayers, Lou Reed and Julian Cope. The mess was the message and the decidedly mid-fi production found Siadatian both honoring and eschewing tradition. The album was accompanied by videos for the singles “Daily Gazette” and “Moldy Man,” both directed by Sam Kristofski (Connan Mockasin, Pond), with select performances in North America, UK, and Europe.

        This year sees PAINT returning with the release of the ambitious Spiritual Vegas. While Ray Davies-smirks and Kevin Ayers-wit abound, Siadatian’s singular touch is unmistakable. Joined once again by producer / engineer Frank Maston at the helm, Spiritual Vegas features a rogue’s gallery of players with performances by Jackson Macintosh (TOPS, Sheer Agony) on bass and guitar, Nick Murray (White Fence, Oh Sees) on drums, and brothers-in-Las Spencer Dunham and Matt Correia on bass and percussion respectively.

        The production is a clear departure from PAINT’s debut- with an increased clarity and tonal variety, drawing inspiration from 80’s/90’s art-rock like The Meat Puppets and The Magnetic Fields.

        “Ta Fardah” (Til Tomorrow) is an early standout. Sung in Farsi, a nod to Siadatian’s Iranian heritage, it’s a crate digger’s dream — channeling 70’s Persian funk melodrama that might have been a nightclub dancefloor hit in pre-revolution Tehran. On “Landman” we hear Siadatian protest all things aquatic, despite social pressures to the contrary. He sings “I’m no Toucan Sam-man, in some guitar jam band” on this Kinks-y ode to land-locked life, complete with “bah bah bah” harmonies and a tropical marimba line.

        The record closes with the minimalist jazz of “Impressions.” It centers on a moody keyboard figure as lazy jazz guitar, sax, and flute solos weave in and out. Both melancholy and triumphant, “Impressions” is a fitting end to an album that explores both feelings and posits they might actually be the same.

        The title Spiritual Vegas was inspired by a visit to Bali, Indonesia, where Siadatian was struck by the juxtaposition of tourists seeking either Instagram enlightenment or Vegas-like debauchery. Is there really a difference? Awakening comes in many forms and as Siadatian intones on opener “Strange World,” “the moment you find laughter’s the key/ the sooner you’ll be free” — a fortune cookie philosophy for both the record and the world at large.

        STAFF COMMENTS

        says: Paint are an entrancing proposition, a mid-heavy juxtaposition of psychedelic jangling and hypnotic repetitive art-rock. Brilliantly absorbing, and comfortingly odd.

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Ariel Pink

        Worn Copy

          Ariel Archives is a comprehensive series of reissues and retrospective collections concentrating on the treasure trove of material recorded and released by Ariel Pink as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Ariel Archives Cycle 2 is comprised of The Doldrums, Worn Copy and House Arrest - representing Ariel Pink’s most classic recordings as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the name used for his one-man recording venture between 1999 – 2004. Each release has been restored from the original cassette masters, which have been retransferred and remastered from single-track sources. The first volume of Ariel Archives featured new editions of Loverboy and Underground, plus a long-awaited follow up volume of rare and unheard tracks titled Oddities Sodomies Vol. 2.

          Ariel Pink

          The Doldrums

            Ariel Archives is a comprehensive series of reissues and retrospective collections concentrating on the treasure trove of material recorded and released by Ariel Pink as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Ariel Archives Cycle 2 is comprised of The Doldrums, Worn Copy and House Arrest - representing Ariel Pink’s most classic recordings as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the name used for his one-man recording venture between 1999 – 2004. Each release has been restored from the original cassette masters, which have been retransferred and remastered from single-track sources. The first volume of Ariel Archives featured new editions of Loverboy and Underground, plus a long-awaited follow up volume of rare and unheard tracks titled Oddities Sodomies Vol. 2.

            Ariel Pink

            House Arrest

              Ariel Archives is a comprehensive series of reissues and retrospective collections concentrating on the treasure trove of material recorded and released by Ariel Pink as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. Ariel Archives Cycle 2 is comprised of The Doldrums, Worn Copy and House Arrest - representing Ariel Pink’s most classic recordings as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, the name used for his one-man recording venture between 1999 – 2004. Each release has been restored from the original cassette masters, which have been retransferred and remastered from single-track sources. The first volume of Ariel Archives featured new editions of Loverboy and Underground, plus a long-awaited follow up volume of rare and unheard tracks titled Oddities Sodomies Vol. 2.

              CMON

              Confusing Mix Of Nations

                CMON is the new recording project of Josh da Costa and Jamen Whitelock. Even as they established themselves as integral members of New York’s DIY scene with their band Regal Degal, da Costa and Whitelock were acutely aware of how closed off they had become. As Regal Degal mounted its final tour, with clubs pushing their set times earlier and earlier to make space for the DJs who followed da Costa and Whitelock took notes. “We were definitely getting swept further from where we wanted to be and the excitement we wanted to portray,” Whitelock says. “There’s such joy in going out and dancing that was completely missing in a lot of shows, especially in New York. Nobody wants to move, everyone’s too self-conscious. But when you go to the club, everyone’s in it—you just want to dance, and that’s all that matters.”

                The community potential and the promise of physical liberation that came with dance music spoke loudly to both da Costa and Whitelock, and following the dissolution of Regal Degal, da Costa set up a new life for himself in Los Angeles—a steady relationship, a pet bird, a car —and got down to work with a copy of Ableton. Back in New York, his head spun by DJ Rashad, Whitelock was learning to program, too. They kept their line of communication open, and eventually Whitelock started making the cross-country trek to work and record with his old bandmate. They mined the sound they established with Regal Degal, applying their old band’s heavy atmospherics and melancholy soul to four-on-the-floor rhythm grids and smoothed-out guitar lines, taking production cues from EBM and AOR in equal measure. If Confusing Mix of Nations is a tour of anything, though, it’s not countries so much as psychic spaces.

                Each of its ten tracks feels like a postcard from an aesthetic territory worth returning to. Opener “Coo” begins with locked-in grooves reminiscent of Drugdealer (for whom da Costa drums) or Mild High Club, until it suddenly gives itself over to a rhythm that’s been chattering away in the back of the track. As da Costa and Whitelock follow its hints, “Coo” suddenly inverts its priorities and sounds like Miami bass all leaned out for Halloween, then calmly returns to the opening groove, the only proof of the excursion an excess of delay on da Costa’s vocal. “Peter Pan” struts like it’s on its way to meet side two of Sandinista! in its verses, then glows with New Romantic shine in the chorus. The pop hooks on “Good to Know” feel like they could set off a festival crowd, but they’re offset by a strange hollow ache at the song’s center—a weird sadness that makes you feel a little bad for dancing to it.

                Dungen

                Dungen Live

                  Dungen Live is a document of a band playing with and beyond time, passionately reviving a slowly storied history of sound. A captivating ride captured and collaged from two shows in their native Sweden and assembled into one piece of continuous music by producer Matthias Glava. Dungen Live covers all the peaks and valleys, the moments of intuition and inspiration, and the cosmic connectivity between a family of musicians that makes each Dungen show a spiritual shift.

                  The source material for Live was recorded, in late November 2015, at Stora Teatern in Gothenburg and Victoriateatern in Malmö. Joined by Swedish sax deity Jonas Kullhammar (who brought his skills to Allas Sak), these were undoubtedly some massive experiences. Live drops us into moments where Dungen’s right at the edge of the cliff, right at the point where they’re getting out of the time machine to bust into John Anthony’s studio right when Affinity is cutting their album for Vertigo, right at the point where you discover the break on a record that snaps into place over some hip hop track you’ve been listening to for years, and you play it over and over.

                  Entirely instrumental (including a footstompin’ cover of Doug Jerebine’s “Ain’t So Hard to Tell” – check with our buds over at Drag City for the full story on that one), Live showcases what Dungen does best: create a vibe where none existed, build a mood out of circumstance, attack the music with a fan’s soul and a master’s scorching virtuosity. It extends moments out of their catalogue that seemed like they were already explored and breathes new life into them, at times graceful, at others rambunctious, and sometimes a little of both. It stirs memories of when those first import copies of Ta det lungt hit the record store, how we listened in awe and watched the customers turn around, that first shock of awareness, that anxiety over trying to take home what appeared

                  Cate Le Bon & Bradford Cox

                  Myths 004

                    As sure as if it had been mapped in the stars, or written in a prophecy buried deep beneath the sands of the Marfa desert, a collaboration between Cate Le Bon and Bradford Cox was always something of an inevitability.

                    Fourth in Mexican Summer’s Myths EP series (and following previous tie-ups between Dev Hynes and Connan Mockasin, Ariel Pink and Weyes Blood, and Dungen and Woods), Myths 004 sees Le Bon and Cox–each a much-revered musical innovator in their own right–finally united.

                    For both artists, Myths 004 signals a change of tack: meticulousness thrown to the wind as spontaneous, jammy tales of firemen and 5p plastic bags, unbrushed hair and shoelessness and makeup-daubed landscapes–all miraculously written and recorded in just one week– roll effortlessly off their cuffs.

                    Though this EP materialises after two individual 2019 album campaigns–Le Bon’s Mercurynominated fifth album Reward, and Cox’s eighth with his band Deerhunter, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (which Le Bon co-produced)–the chronologies are tangled: Myths 004 is in fact a snapshot of the pair’s very first meeting. After years of admiring each other’s work from afar, Cox and Le Bon finally converged on Marfa, Texas in 2018, at Mexican Summer’s annual Marfa Myths music, visual art, and film festival.

                    “Marfa is an extraordinary town,” says Le Bon. “It feels like nothing else exists when you’re in it which is both comforting and unnerving.” In this otherworldly enclave, and with a band of frequent Cate Le Bon co-conspirators on hand to putty the gaps with drums, saxophone, percussion, keys, and additional guitar (Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, Stephen Black of Sweet Baboo, and Samur Khouja), the EP was assembled whiplash-quick.

                    “Writing and recording in a week is a tall order - especially when such chemistry exists between all the musicians involved, and the possibilities are boundless,” Le Bon explains. “We committed ourselves to embracing the chaos, surrendering to all moments and moods that travelled through. It’s a crude holiday scrapbook shared by all involved, an amalgamation of the changes in mood and light that shaped the days.”

                    Indeed, Myths 004 is wondrous in its variety. On the opening song “Canto!”, Cox dons the illfitting leathers of an ageing biker and urges us to come ride with him, baby. He and Le Bon gaze into one another’s eyes with semi-serious sweetness as tough, wiry guitars stab through the romance.

                    Everything shrinks and softens on the EP’s sole single, the gently melancholic “Secretary,” as Le Bon and Cox spout verse over a mysterious percussive rhythm; perhaps made by miniature cymbals from a mantric parade, perhaps by someone rummaging in the cutlery drawer. Together, they combat the office humdrum of filing, answering the phone, and eating “the same old plastic lunch” with a surreal and beautiful daydream of “mascara brushed across the plains / all of the phone calls you made disconnected.”

                    Most freeform are the short instrumental interludes–the garage-y, hammily menacing “Companions in Misfortune,” could easily soundtrack a gang sauntering down an alleyway, whilst “Jericho” emulateMost freeform are the short instrumental interludes–the garage-y, hammily menacing “Companions in Misfortune,” could easily soundtrack a gang sauntering down an alleyway, whilst “Jericho” emulates a dog and a brass band falling down the stairs (with jazzy panache, thank you very much).

                    “Fireman” sees Le Bon and Cox cast themselves as postulating heroes, as in a flash of tongue-in-cheek, lyrical-comic wordplay, Cate sings “I am a fireman / putting out fires, man” and Bradford, in a low faux-macho drawl, rambles immodestly in the background about his fire-extinguishing prowess.

                    And final track “What Is She Wearing,” drips with cynicism, wit, and parody punk spirit as Le Bon lists universally relatable and not-so-nice, day-to-day shit: having to take the bins out, stepping in chewing gum, taking your jumper off when you’re wearing an ugly t-shirt underneath, finding dirt on the fork at a fancy restaurant, going to the supermarket and paying five pence for a plastic bag you don’t want. It wouldn’t be hard to believe that John Cale is sawing his bow across an electric guitar somewhere in the background as Le Bon lippily gripes: “I’m walking to get myself a croissant from the bakery / and everybody is looking at me as if I have committed a crime.”

                    But for all their twists and turns, Myths 004’s seven tracks sit perfectly alongside one another - each sounding simultaneously like a Bradford Cox song, and like a Cate Le Bon song. In the true spirit of collaboration, a feeling of sheer joy prevails, uniting the EP’s every shape, character, prang, plod and playful bite.

                    Ariel Pink

                    Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2

                      Ariel Archives revisits Ariel Pink’s historic run of albums as Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti with a series of definitive reissues and new collections. The first installment begins with Underground, the inaugural album in the series, Odditties Sodomies Vol. 2, a long-awaited second volume of outtakes and non-album tracks, and finally Loverboy, an exemplary disc recorded between October 2001 and July 2002, at which time Ariel also recorded House Arrest.

                      Allah Las have always been fascinated with both the carefree spirit and glitter-in-the-gutter lifestyle of their hometown LA. After three records mining its lore and lure (from the desert to the sea) and having taken their compact California on the road across the world, they couldn’t help but peek through the other end of the telescope.

                      On their fourth LP, drummer Matt Correia, bassist Spencer Dunham, and guitarists Miles Michaud and Pedrum Siadatian turn their collective gaze outward and toward the horizon. "We’ve been travelling a lot the past couple years and I think that played a role in influencing the broader variety of songs on this record” Correia explains. Simply titled LAHS (a reference to a common misspelling of the band’s name), their forthcoming release on Mexican Summer finds a band at the peak of their powers.


                      STAFF COMMENTS

                      says: The newest Allah Las outing sees the LA quartet absorb and excel at a dizzying range of influences, exploring everything from classic psychedelic rock, hazy Balearic vibes and 12-bar blues to latin percussion, swooning lounge and of course, their trademark swooning indie. It's a triumph of diversity and thematic consistency, and most of all, bloody good fun.

                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                      Coloured LP Info: Indies exclusive translucent orange vinyl.

                      Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

                      Tracing Back The Radiance

                        Some records aren’t as simple as they seem. Most are capsules of beauty and creative vision, or sublime objects of expression which occupy the abstract realms. But the rare few are also discrete philosophies, realised in sound - a truth brought to the forefront by Mexican Summer veteran, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s, latest venture, Tracing Back The Radiance. A radical departure from pop drenched melodies which have defined his recent efforts, its experimental forms offer a dynamic rethinking of the terms and possibilities of discourse and collaboration - a vast ambient landscape of abstraction, texture, and tone, beneath which lingers a veiled vision, addressing the challenges of our increasingly disassociated age. A slow, delicate meditation - open space punctuated by the restrained harmonics of vibraphone, processing, flute, pedal steel, synthesizer, piano, organ, and voice, Tracing Back The Radiance grew from a few simple piano lines, a need for change, and an evolving process which fell somewhere between conversation, singular vision, and a wild game of exquisite corpse - Cantu-Ledesma acting as contributor, servant, and guiding force to the emerging album’s all-star cast of voices - John Also Bennett, Marilu Donavan, Chuck Johnson, Gregg Kowalsky, Mary Lattimore, David Moore, Meara O'Reilly, Jonathan Sielaff, Roger Tellier Craig, and Christopher Tignor, each responding and intervening from various corners of North America. With nods to historic high-water marks in ambient and electroacoustic music, as well Italian minimalist pioneers like Gusto Pio, Lino Capra Vaccina, and Francesco Messina + Raul Lovisoni, Cantu-Ledesma delves forward with one of his most ambitious, elegant, and exciting endeavors of his career, retaining every bit of the ease and openness in musical language which has guided him across the decades. A beautiful, immersive, melancholic, and contemplative balm for the troubled times in which it was made. 

                        FORMAT INFORMATION

                        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                        Various Artists

                        Self Discovery For Social Survival

                          Since the genre’s birth in the early 1950s, the surf film has involved a synthesis of image and music. Typically these two key ingredients are sourced separately, mixed together only after the visual fact. Self Discovery for Social Survival subverts this recipe. Just like the osmotic waves that run through the film, the visuals and music of SDSS coexist and permeate as one to reinvent and reimagine what surf films can look, sound, and feel like. SDSS works as a triptych - In Mexico, Los Angeles psych ensemble Allah Las, join surf historians and professional surfers from the US and Australia in sipping tequila, hanging ten across winding waves, and stumbling upon a super-secret surf break (the location of which they will never reveal). Allah-Las then return to their home studio to set off to record with their analog equipment, this time ripping on the sound waves. The five songs by Allah Las on the soundtrack, entirely instrumental and all aligned by different variations of fruit jams, lay the foundation of classic surf aesthetic: tingling guitars, sporadic yet attentive percussion, and rolling bass lines. In the second vignette, remotely held in the southern atolls of the Maldives Islands, Los Angeles electronic pop dub duo Peaking Lights (Aaron Coyes and Indra Dunis) carve their mark on the waves with a group of progressive young Australian surfers.

                          While the gentle yet upbeat electronic echoes of Peaking Lights, reminiscent of Broadcast or Arthur Russell, bounce across the screen, breathtaking aerial views of wipeouts and vast underwater ocean shots take flight. Leaving bobbing heads tread-ing ocean waters that carry the whitest shade of blue, Peaking Lights move on land to their home studio to delve into their two contributions to SDSS, “Mirror In The Sky” and “Hold On.” A near-silent symphony ending in Iceland, kiwi neo-psych musician Connan Mockasin and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden encounter slate grey waves, active volcanoes, euphoric hot springs, massive glaciers, and wild mushrooms. Surrounded in alien landscapes, dramatically darker in tone and movement than other scenes in the film, SDSS emphasizes a side to surf that avoids stereotypes. Heading from The Northern Lights to the north of Brooklyn, Mockasin and VanWyngarden finally settle into Gary’s Electric (Mexican Summer’s in house studio) exhorting a surrealist, emerald ending to mark a unique display of the neo-surf film. Mexican Summer stable staples Dungen and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma provide additional music and sound design to elevate the soundtrack to unknowable stratas.

                          It was on a mountainside in Cumbria that the first whispers of Cate Le Bon’s fifth studio album poked their buds above the earth. “There’s a strange romanticism to going a little bit crazy and playing the piano to yourself and singing into the night,” she says, recounting the year living solitarily in the Lake District which gave way to Reward. By day, ever the polymath, Le Bon painstakingly learnt to make solid wood tables, stools and chairs from scratch; by night she looked to a second-hand Meers - the first piano she had ever owned - for company, “windows closed to absolutely everyone”, and accidentally poured her heart out. The result is an album every bit as stylistically varied, surrealistically-inclined and tactile as those in the enduring outsider’s back catalogue, but one that is also intensely introspective and profound; her most personal to date.

                          This sense of privacy maintained throughout is helped by the various landscapes within which Reward took shape: Stinson Beach, LA, and Brooklyn via Cardiff and The Lakes. Recording at Panoramic House [Stinson Beach, CA], a residential studio on a mountain overlooking the ocean, afforded Le Bon the ability to preserve the remoteness she had captured during the writing of Reward in Staveley, Lake District.

                          Over this extended period a cast of trusted and loved musicians joined Le Bon, Khouja and fellow co-producer Josiah Steinbrick - Stella Mozgawa (of Warpaint) on drums and percussion; Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) on bass and saxophone and longtime collaborators Huw Evans (aka H.Hawkline) and Josh Klinghoffer on guitars - and were added to the album, “one by one, one on one”. The fact that these collaborators have appeared variously on Le Bon’s previous outputs no doubt goes some way to aid the preservation of a signature sound despite a relatively drastic change in approach.

                          Be it on her more minimalist, acoustic-leaning 2009 debut album Me Oh My or critically acclaimed, liquid-riffed 2013 LP Mug Museum, Cate Le Bon’s solo work - and indeed also her production work, such as that carried out on recent Deerhunter album Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared? (4AD, January 2019) - has always resisted pigeonholing, walking the tightrope between krautrock aloofness and heartbreaking tenderness; deadpan served with a twinkle in the eye, a flick of the fringe and a lick of the Telecaster.

                          The multifaceted nature of Le Bon’s art - its ability to take on multiple meanings and hold motivations which are not immediately obvious - is evident right down to the album’s very name. “People hear the word ‘reward’ and they think that it’s a positive word” says Le Bon, “and to me it’s quite a sinister word in that it depends on the relationship between the giver and the receiver. I feel like it’s really indicative of the times we’re living in where words are used as slogans, and everything is slowly losing its meaning.” The record, then, signals a scrambling to hold onto meaning; it is a warning against lazy comparisons and face values. It is a sentiment nicely summed up by the furniture-making musician as she advises: “Always keep your hand behind the chisel.”

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          says: Cate Le Bon’s fifth album came together during a period of self imposed solitude in the Lake District. Retreating from L.A. to a mountainside in Cumbria, she spent a year building wooden furniture and penning songs into the night. While writing an album in the woods may sound like a bit of an old singer-songwriter cliché, Le Bon’s offering is far from the soppy acoustic balladry you might expect. Instead, she has produced an album of delightfully unhinged art-pop which reveals the curiosities of her inner world.
                          ‘Reward’ retains the off-kilter whimsy which is characteristic of Le Bon’s ever expanding back catalogue. She expertly toes the line between heartfelt sincerity and playful absurdity, maintaining an edge to her songwriting which keeps it from sounding twee. Some of her vocal melodies alone would feel at home in a more conventional pop album, but the instrumentation elevates it to outsider status - discordant stings of electric guitar, metallic synths and an anxious ticking always lurking in the background.
                          The slow, stately opener “Miami” builds through a rising dialogue between the vocals, horns and synth which eventually disappears into thin air. Le Bon then takes us on a soft rock jaunt permeated by a sense of distance and longing: “Love you, I love you, but you’re not here”. “Mother’s Mother’s Magazines” spirals into nervy post punk territory, with each instrument locked into a mechanical groove which rolls forwards like a steam train. But it’s the final song “Meet The Man” which shines the brightest lyrically and melodically, ending the album with a heartwarming resolution: “Love is good, love is ancient to me, love is you, love is beautiful to me”.

                          “All anyone wants to be is what they can.”

                          After becoming enmeshed in the Los Angeles underground scene after 2013's The End of Comedy, Raw Honey (Michael Collins second album as Drugdealer) sees Collins once again leading an ace crew of collaborators to coalesce the spirit of Drugdealer’s classically modern pop with lush arrangements, memetic melodies, and a vulnerable tunefulness that tries to make sense of self-doubt and connected loneliness in our shared simulacra.

                          Raw Honey features contributions of Josh Da Costa (drums), Jackson MacIntosh (guitar), Danny Garcia (guitar), Michael Long (lead guitar), and Benjamin Schwab (backing vocals, guitar, organ, piano, wurlitzer), as well as guest vocalists like country balladeer Dougie Poole (“Wild Motion”), Harley Hill-Richmond (“Lonely”), and frequent collaborator Natalie Mering (Weyes Blood) whose dulcet tones sing low before soaring on “Honey,” a track as silky as the nectar itself.

                          STAFF COMMENTS

                          says: I can't think of a more appropriate home for Drugdealer than on Mexican Summer, with the jagged psychedelic twists and turns and gorgeous, swaying haze of 70's pop shing through every note played, 'Raw Honey' is by far Collins' most assured offering yet and expands upon his already established palette with stunning songwriting and a few perfectly chosen collaborators.

                          Paint

                          Paint

                            The verb, the noun, the substance, the action, the command: make a mark! With that, PAINT (guitarist/singer Pedrum Siadatian of the Allah-Las), is making his mark too with his first, selftitled solo record.

                            PAINT started by four-tracking his own strange, slow-growing ideas just after Allah-Las third album Calico Review (2016) - fed or led by a certain acid-bitter poetry (Gregory Corso and John Lennon) and the murky music of Kevin Ayers and Syd Barrett. Siadatian found a producer and partner-in-grime in adept cinematic psychedelicist Frank Maston, who instinctively understood these songs would fall apart if scrubbed too roughly in the studio. Now PAINT’s self-titled debut LP has a happily paradoxical finished-but-not-finished-off feel, like Lou Reed and R. Stevie Moore and Julian Cope and Richard Hell, but just the songs that never came out.

                            Like “Daily Gazette”: big-city-on-the-skids mid-tempo hot-summer punk blues cool like those Richard Hell/Tom Verlaine Neon Boys tapes. Like “Splattered”: a subway-sound Velvet Underground valentine. Like “Silver Streaks”: budget-studio 1970s expression-as-obsession from the California observed and preserved by demimonde private-press psychedelicists Damon or F.J. McMahon. Like “Wash”: a last-dance cosmic waltz that could’ve been a snippet of an Angelo Badalamenti soundtrack.

                            Anyway, this is PAINT, the substance and the action – it drips, it runs, it changes colors. In between: not the desert but the dirt, not the night but the dark, not the sun but the heat and not the sea but the deep, and always the heartbeat blood-rush feel-it! momentum that makes all rock ‘n’ roll rock and roll.

                            Think of it this way: PAINT’s first album isn’t always clean, but it’s very very clear. Sometimes the mess is the message.

                            Pill

                            Soft Hell

                              Soft Hell, Pill’s second full-length album, is a raucous, splintering dispatch from New York City, animated by the madcap ingenuity of a foursome finding a palpable sense of joy and play in expressions of caustic, black humour. Like the contradiction of the album title, which references our acceptance of everyday miseries, it’s a slew of dichotomies, a frenzied cutup. It’s bleeding saxophone and lustrous feedback sounding somehow pastoral, and winking hooks subtly infused with venom. Pill’s lyrics are severe and funny, cryptic and straightforward, but never didactic. They reliably interrogate power. Vocalist and bassist Veronica Torres, a poet and visual artist, has cited as influences J .P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson and Ian Svenonius, apt references for her wildly expressive range. Atop the clattering rush of opener “A.I.Y.M.” she uses an ambiguous narrator to complicate gendered stereotypes, while “Fruit,” a coolly pulsing vamp, explores the paralysis of political anxiety. “What am I allowed to create or destroy?” she asks in “Power Abuser,” highlighting the inanity of needing to ask for permission. Pill resent complacency, whether in political or creative senses. “For me this band’s about being provocative with sound,” said saxophonist Benjamin Jaffe. Drummer Andrew Spaulding said the album title, Soft Hell, critiques the “work-to-play” cliché of New York life, with its breakneck, competitive pursuit of comfort. Torres added that it evokes sexual bondage, describing Soft Hell as a reference to the cyclical monotony of humans harming one another.

                              Jassbusters is Connan Mockasin’s third album and first in five years. An unclassifiable, unconventional album that neither picks up from nor abandons the modes of 2013’s widely-embraced Caramel or its 2010 predecessor Forever Dolphin Love, Jassbusters foreshadows a five-part melodrama film titled Bostyn 'n Dobsyn, created by Mockasin.

                              Jassbusters soundtracks the unpredictable narrative of the film in eclectic, electric ways.

                              Whether bending genres or collaborating with artists like James Blake, MGMT, and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Connan Mockasin has always maneuvered in mysterious ways. After touring with the likes of Radiohead and Neil & Liam Finn (Crowded House), the R&B surrealist continues assembling a cult around his theater, nay spectacle of life with Bostyn ’n Dobsyn screenings and Jassbusters performances throughout October and November 2018.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              says: Smooth as silk, Connan Mockasin smashes out some softly sung utterances and syncopated jazzy flourishes on his newest LP for the excellent Mexican Summer. Weirdo R&B meets with shimmering lounge and almost-vertical soul in this thoroughly entertaining suite. Brilliant.

                              Jess Williamson

                              Cosmic Wink

                                A reference to the Jungian idea of synchronicity, or “meaningful coincidences,” Cosmic Wink is as much a reflection on inspired companionship as it is a rebirth. Jess Williamson fell deeply in love, and then her life was uprooted; she left Texas for California, leaving behind the roadworn verses of her previous albums for brighter, bolder songwriting.

                                The Byrds-ian jangle of album opener “I See The White” airbrushes halos around the brain with an immortal pop hook. When Williamson asks her listener to “tell me everything you know about consciousness,” it’s an invitation down a two lane blacktop, both vessels heading the same direction.

                                The Rhodes-soaked “Wild Rain” begins with a ghostly air until a swell of synths gives way like the heavens parting. Williamson’s voice emerges from the clouds promising that she will “treasure your patience / from you I learned what it means to make a family.”

                                Concluding with “Love On the Piano,” Williamson’s new musical and lyrical mind declares “Love is my name now / Love, Darlin” over a revolving acoustic guitar line and lightly pressed upright piano notes. Vulnerability can feel something less vulnerable when love - true, deep love - creates a latticework to hang the frame of our humanity, which in many ways is the message underlying the entire album.

                                Jefre Cantu-Ledesma

                                On The Echoing Green

                                  On the Echoing Green is an elegant work of lush, shimmering sound, rendered with a singular touch by eternal electric romantic Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. In contrast to the haze and hermetic process of previous albums, Green was conceived as a deliberate experiment in clarity and collaboration: “I was interested in trying to bring out more overt pop elements, to let them come to the front and be present. I also have more trust now in letting things happen – trusting other people’s musicianship, and being open to people’s ideas. Eventually, things emerge.” What emerged from this bond are eight rapturous and richly melodic slow dives of swirling guitar, bass, synthesizer, piano, and drum machines, dramatically accented in places by heavenly arcs of voice courtesy of Argentinian singer-songwriter Sobrenadar. Cantu-Ledesma encouraged chemistry and intuition in the studio by beginning the album without any demos for reference; he and his collaborators pursued patterns and hypnotic textures across long-form improvisations until gradually songs began to take shape. This is music of growth and grandeur, of ascent and exploration, played with purpose and passion by a craftsman in tune with the beauty of sound and the harmony of light. In his words: “[This album] feels like spring – things coming alive, blooming, emerging from winter.”

                                  Riding on a cloud of smoke, psychedelic travelers Shadow Band make sounds that move like foggy dreams from fantastical lands. Their patient but powerful songs set in motion a series of refracting echoes that call forth images of medieval battles, spirits unseen by human eyes, and the gentle, constant pulsing of the universe. The band formed organically around the songwriting of Mike Bruno, a quiet figure whose vibrant mental landscape is the center of the group’s orbit. Growing up in New Jersey, Bruno immersed himself in a self-made world of gloomy sonic alchemy, honing his songcraft as a solo act in New Brunswick's small-but-dedicated freak scene. The early years saw Bruno attracting a rotating cast of area heads around his growing arsenal of songs and dubbing it Black Magic Family Band. The sprawling web of artists varied with every gig and recording session, but the roots of Shadow Band started here. Sonically, the homespun production mirrors the communal environment in which they were made. Layers of murky instrumentation congeal into a singular sound, with strange stringed instruments, theremin vibrations and buried percussion all washing by as a solid alien texture. Songs melt into one another to the sound of distant birds and pagan pan flutes only to rise up in swells of unholy synth.

                                  Calico Review shows a band that’s grown confident enough in its own style to reflect the perspectives of each member, & craft an album that changes up the approach from song-to-song, while retaining their abilities as a cohesive unit.

                                  “Strange Heat,” reflects a control & character that burns off of the band’s knack for restraint. Songs like “Famous Phone Figure” cradle character sketches over delicate strains of violin, organ, & Mellotron, Matthew Correia’s drumming carefully underlining a three-note theme that casts a phantom sadness over the proceedings, the group exerting a touch both light & steady enough to bring your mood to theirs.

                                  “Could Be You” works off a steady percussive gallop, guitarist Miles Michaud waxing reflexively on second chances while the band focuses on forward motion. “Roadside Memorial” applies the Bo Diddley beat to the open road, Pedrum Siadatian stepping up on vocals, & finding new ways to match his talents to propulsive musical ends. Elsewhere, “High & Dry,” features Correia on lead vocals, focusing on their most quintessential & peerless quality: writing emotionally resonant pop, at once direct & detached, casual & knowing, & instantly memorable. The dream factory itself gets called out in the fun, surf-stung number “200 South La Brea,” its carnival-like atmosphere reflecting the excitement & anxiety of those who await their judgment.

                                  STAFF COMMENTS

                                  says: With hints of rock and/or roll, 70's pop and modern twee indie, Allah Las are a band that defy at least ten expectations before even getting out of bed. Each one of these pieces has an understated elegance and confidence that we haven't heard from them before. Songs like 'Could Be You' are more driven and rocking while 'Famous Phone Figure' is a Wurlitzer swirled Floydian delight. The changes don't end there, but i'll leave the rest a surprise.

                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                  Indies Exclusive LP Info: Clear vinyl with printed inner sleeve and download code with a bonus track.

                                  Convenience skids like a garbage truck with no brakes, barreling through passages of guitar chording bent at the wrong angles and ring-modded riffs aligning with Benjamin Jaffe’s expressive sax before splitting apart into chaos. Veronica Torres assumes double-duty between vocals and bass, while Jon Campolo plays three instruments in the live setting and Andrew Spaulding four, including circuit-bent noise rigs of their own invention. Veronica’s words are delivered with the speed and frenzy of someone with their life on the line, but she’s also able to slow things down in a gesture of dominance, confidence, and trust. This band is wise enough to know that safety is fleeting, so they take their digs when and where they can.

                                  Given Pill's backgrounds, their music advances a notion of what the punk spirit of NYC might be: the capture and distillation of the energy and friction that comes from living amongst so many people in such a confined space. The idea seeds in free jazz and improvisation; reached adolescence in galleries and loft spaces in the ‘70s; found politics in squats and independent spaces; and it grows stronger the more these several sensibilities are practiced ands stewed. Call them No wave, post-punk, noise; they are immune, content to head off in a direction of their own design.

                                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                                  LP includes MP3 Download Code.

                                  Torn Hawk

                                  Union And Return

                                    Union and Return is the third album from Luke Wyatt’s Torn Hawk. It was composed and recorded entirely by Wyatt at his home in Berlin and is inspired by painters like Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Caspar David Friedrich. Here. Wyatt parts the gauze that shrouded his former work to reveal a lush and ornate set of compositions -- elegantly orchestrated, awash in unguarded emotion.

                                    Having spent years working with gritty production techniques, Wyatt seems refreshed and restored by the possibilities of definition and detail. Many tracks were initially composed on piano and then painstakingly fleshed out into final form. The feel is spontaneous, rather than labored, and the pieces possess an organic and grid-less grace. On album opener “The Romantic,” the flow of ideas is natural, seamlessly transferring melodies and themes from voice to voice, instrument to instrument. Orchestral arrangements give way to layered guitars, smeared pads and collaged digital detritus.

                                    While the record luxuriates in subtle, delicate dynamics, Union and Return is just as disruptive as anything in his back catalog. Tracks like “Feeling is Law” and “Die Swimming in the Sea Here” supply a full-bore tenderness that can be uncomfortable, especially for those projecting a policed gruff or “masculine” image. This disruption is key to the music’s intent - gentle music as a tough gesture.

                                    FORMAT INFORMATION

                                    Ltd LP Info: Includes MP3 download featuring bonus track.

                                    Plaza is the third album by Quilt; a name implying a meeting place, a crossroads, a coming together. In the space of ten songs, Plaza clarifies Quilt’s musical stance of a congregation, mixing folk, pop-psych, and wanderlust into a common ground where each form takes on the characteristics of one another to create something wholly satisfying, styles and sentiments hand in hand, the purest and sharpest distillation of Quilt’s group aesthetic to date.

                                    On Plaza, Quilt has pivoted their sound on a new foothold. The guitars shimmer, squawk, warble, swell, and tense up. The organs and synths flow in the background as mood-enhancers. The drums dig in a little deeper. We hear flutes and harps, a string quartet, grand pianos and Casios, feedback and distorted violas. Among all these sounds the group’s shared and solo vocals showcase some of the strongest lyrics and hooks the band has made to date.

                                    Plaza showcases a tighter, more concise version of Quilt, particularly as the members have learned to encourage each other’s strengths and allow each other to confidently exist as distinct voices cooperating within a very intimate creative space; their songcraft has tightened up, their singing now crystal clear, vis á vis personal experiences of loss, frustration and isolation.

                                    Torn Hawk

                                    Let's Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time

                                    'Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time' is the most recent statement from Torn Hawk aka producer and video artist Luke Wyatt. It's difficult to neatly categorize Wyatt's genre-refracting productions. The nuts and bolts are built from live guitar, drum machines, junky synths, and layers of samples which are smeared into a cohesive whole. Wyatt's guitar moves between the meditations of Manuel Göttsching, the jangle-grid of The Chameleons and the saturation of Medicine. Throw in the melodrama of a sax on a Don Henley hit, and you get a better idea of Torn Hawk's playfully sincere sensibility.



                                    The Innocents is the name of the second album by southeastern Pennsylvania’s Natalie Mering, who performs as Weyes Blood. Its ten songs confront us with a vocalist of rare choral purity; lyrics so emotionally unflinching that they could pierce stone; music rooted in American and British folk, then pulled and stretched at its fringes, like a sweater that’s just begun to unravel.

                                    As you sift through her words, you’ll feel something, and you’ll associate those feeling with past experiences that may cause you to associate them with something more, something that affects your own emotional state. The Innocents is akin to the most primal form of expression: elements laid bare, deeply connected to the past, and miles away from anything else you’re likely to hear in music today.

                                    “Weyes Blood isn’t making anachronistic music, but rather blending psychedelic synthesizers, rock drums, and vocal layering effects to produce something that only could have been made today.” – Fader

                                    “Drawing from the androgynous folk-rock vocals so characteristic of early ’60s and ’70s outsider folk singers like Vashti Bunyan and Sibylle Baier, Weyes Blood’s Natalie Mering never hesitates to dive head-first into complex and mature arrangements.” – Fader

                                    “…her quavering alto, which floats above an intriguing mix of conventional instrumentation and electronics, tape collages, and delay effects to create a compelling update of '70s psyche-folk.” – Nylon

                                    "Hang On" finds Mering released from these ghostly gates—its her most pronounced track to date, and one that more directly recalls her 1960s British folk touchstones.” – Pitchfork

                                    “Singing at once with vulnerability and strength through an austere, multi-layered warble, Mering searches for truth and light while facing the end of something.”– Pitchfork

                                    “Hang On,” its first single, sounds like a tweaked and adrift version of ’60s folk music.”– Stereogum

                                    Acting as a respite from the celebrated strains of modern Australian underground music, Lower Plenty manage a deconstruction of folk music like none other: unsettled, unforgiving, unconcerned with what came before or what’s to follow. Acoustic guitars shuffle in and out of phase with one another, double-tracked vocals hover above in careful meter, brushed snare rattles the very frame of their sound, and then everything shifts again, and again. Comfort’s not long here, though beauty is maintained; melodies start sweet but turn inward, wane nostalgic and wax without resolve.

                                    Life/Thrills is the Melbourne group’s third full-length, and their collective experience will leave you thoroughly unprepared for the beautiful confusion suggested by these ten songs, which seem to have the power of slowing and even stopping time. Suitable comparisons to this music are as disparate as early Cat Power, Arab Strap, the Shrimper roster ca. 1992, the Sun City Girls, and the late ‘60s/early ‘70s output of the Red Crayola, but as with much truly original music, Lower Plenty resists direct comparison and defies expectation. Their shambling, discordant presence will relieve you of any preconceptions – this is one best experienced alone, as the sun fades into the horizon for the night.

                                    The legacy of North Carolina’s Ashrae Fax seems destined to be appreciated in retrospect, in no small part given to the tremendous power of the group’s 2003 release Static Crash!, reissued twice from its initial CD-R run before appearing on Mexican Summer last year.

                                    The Goth/ethereal duo of vocalist Renée Mendoza and producer/guitarist Alex Chesney had built a long, strange and mostly undocumented legacy prior to that release, and Never Really Been Into It extends the tale back even further: ten songs, sketched out in the late ‘90s, most of which were never completed and remained unheard until now.

                                    Rescued from a shoebox of ephemera from the band’s earliest days, when Mendoza and guitarist Alex Chesney drifted out of high school and into the uncertainties of early adulthood, these songs were the product of a band whose members had nothing but time and ambition, influence and desire to transcend their humble beginnings. Pieced together and re-recorded in 2013 by Renée in her home studio, from mere stems and forgotten takes preserved on decades-old minidisc recordings, the songs reflect disquiet, uncertainty, absolute beauty, along teenage obsessions with The Cocteau Twins and The Cure, refracted through the lens of latter-day experience – pristine musicianship, gorgeous vocals, cryogenically frozen until now. Had these songs been properly released when initially conceived. First new record in over 10 years

                                    For Fans of: Lush, This Mortal Coil, The Cure

                                    Freewheeling Brattleboro, VT rock/folk wonderments the Happy Jawbone Family Band bring their latest full-length to Mexican Summer. What they’ve entrusted us to give to you represents their finest and most directly fulfilling effort to date.

                                    The energy and humor of early releases remains; that band you may have loved before has grown even stronger and more potent, its songs now monuments to individualism, to longing, to happier endings resulting from imperfect circumstances.

                                    Binding folk, indie rock and pop forms together is easy enough; it’s what this band does with them, how it builds its sentiments and bursts preconceptions, that put them in a place where these musicians can rest, comfortably above and apart from almost every band working in this same terrain today.

                                    We’re hearing the trippiest moments of the Beatles, Lindsey Buckingham at the peaks he reached on Tusk, and both poles of American post-punk songwriting royalty, Camper Van Beethoven at one end and Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 at the other. Try it on.

                                    “Happy Jawbone's disturbed take on whimsy and rebellious, youthful spirit recalls lo-fi stables, Elephant 6 and K Records” - Pitchfork

                                    "something truly defining” - The 405

                                    "beautiful psych-punk creation” - Ad Hoc

                                    The debut album from this Atlanta-based five-piece is certainly not easy to pigeonhole. Shifting seamlessly from taut post-punk to lush 60s balladry, and starry-eyed guitar pop to moody guitar squall, VPI Harmony is the sound of a band meticulously studied in their influences, and unafraid to expand, combine and re-imagine the sounds of their musical loves into their own signature package.

                                    Take for instance the way album opener "Dark Flow", whose lilting guitar notes and stately drum rolls drifts with floaty falsettos straight into the tightly wound, breathy lead single "Pathos y Lagrimas", replete with glossy guitars and an air of sexy mystery. Or the way in which "Promise Me" switches from peppy, Sarah Records jangle into dreamy girl-group heartbreak in under a minute.

                                    Moving from the loose, lo-fi quality of their debut EP Sweater Weather Forever in 2011, VPI Harmony was recorded, mixed and mastered in-studio at Gary's Electric in Brooklyn. The upgrade has done wonders for enhancing the band's sound, and helping to fully realize and emulate their seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of pop production.

                                    Turning Shrines

                                    Face Of Another

                                      THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2013 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

                                      The one-sided 7" from Jorge Elbrecht and New York-based Tamaryn features a cover of Turning Shrines "1/4 Circle Black" - a track which almost feels tailor-made for Tamaryn's brand of lush shoegaze.

                                      Mexican Summer is excited to re-release this rare 12" EP from Turning Shrines, uniquely accompanied by a 7" from Jorge Elbrecht featuring current Mexican Summer signee Tamaryn.

                                      Turning Shrines was one of a handful of projects from revered electronic artist Fred Giannelli, perhaps best known for his work with Psychic TV and under other aliases including Kooky Scientist and Acid Didj. Turning Shrines was a trio made up of Giannelli, Neal Sugarman and Leslie Asako Gladsjo. Temple Records (Psychic TV’s own imprint) released Face Of Another in 1984, followed by one LP Cinnabar and Porcelain in 1988 -the second and last ever official release from the project.

                                      After meeting the founder of Temple Records in Boston in 1984, a 24-year-old Fred decided that he would document his development as as musician and music producer and finance an actual record of his own! material. Fred had also done! extensive live sound for various bands in Boston area clubs since 1980 and was working in a recording studio throughout the early 80s learning the craft. The four tracks which make up Face of Another showcase the early fruits of this craft - ghostly vocals and reverberating guitar swirls, all held together by Giannelli's unmistakeable synth work.

                                      500 Copies for the UK

                                      The Soft Pack

                                      Strapped - Bonus Disc Edition

                                      Both formats include a free CD bonus disc "Unstrapped", featuring 4 tracks.

                                      The Soft Pack are back with 'Strapped', an adventurous album that finds the Los Angeles-based foursome breaking with expectations and exploring the possibilities of how they can push their sound. In making it, the group took to heart a quote from the sage Pasadena thinker David Lee Roth that goes something like: “The first rule of rock & roll is if it sounds good, it is good.”

                                      The Soft Pack’s history begins in 2007 when Matt Lamkin (guitar/lead vocals) and Matty McLoughlin (lead guitar) started a band in their native San Diego. By the following year they’d added David Lantzman (bass) and Brian Hill (drums). The four of them soon moved up to LA, went on a bunch of tours, and coalesced into The Soft Pack.

                                      Following the two and a half straight years of touring that came both before and after 2010’s self-titled release on Heavenly Recordings (Kemado Records in the US), the band were burnt out but determined to take control of their future. They decided to self-produce their follow-up, which will be released by Kemado’s sister label Mexican Summer. During the previous sessions for their self-titled album they developed 12 songs and recorded all of them - 10 of them made it to the album, the other two became B-sides. In contrast, while making Strapped they created 80 demo ideas, recorded 30 full songs, and then picked their 12 favourite ones for the album, no matter how far out they were.

                                      The group also took their time while making Strapped, making it over the course of two years. This pace allowed them to integrate new ideas and approaches into their existing sound. The Soft Pack’s pop rock foundations are undeniably still present - nine of the songs don’t break three minutes and from the first seconds of glorious album opener “Saratoga” it’s obvious they haven’t abandoned the fuzz. That said, they’ve also spent a lot of time listening to Denim, Momus, The Church, YAZ, Grace Jones, INXS, Carole King, Lee Hazelwood, The Byrds, and Elton John. “Bobby Brown” is an icy new wave number, whose saxophone solo is just one of several horn appearances on Strapped. For “Head on Ice,” they layer on the dark atmospherics and capture a spiraling sense of doom. Maybe the most surprising cut on Strapped is album closer “Captain Ace,” a jubilant space cruiser that jams out to nearly the seven-minute mark…. Enjoy the ride!

                                      Dispossession is the second full length from Brooklyn’s Mike Wexler, and his debut for Mexican Summer. An artist who defies easy categorization—a songwriter/guitarist without a traditionalist bone in his body, with an ear for far flung sound-worlds and sonic atmospheres both high & low, Wexler brings all of his manifold interests to bear in carving out a space for a singular vision uniquely attuned to the present moment. Dispossession is the product of over two years of intermittent recording. It features players from the worlds of underground rock (ex members of White Magic and The Occasion), free improvisation (Ryan Sawyer, Nate Wooley, Jessica Pavone), synth and string textures inspired by the likes of Eliane Radigue and the Spectralists, a vocal and lyrical presence of unsettling, near-subliminal depth, and the omnipresent backbone of fingerstyle guitar, without a trace of “Americana” to be heard. The basic band tracks were recorded live, at more or less the moment when the arrangements first crystallized, so there’s a bedrock of spontaneity and a free feeling to the proceedings, complicated by the highly mapped-out nature of the subsequent orchestration, synth washes and overdubs. It’s a record that fits the broken mold of auteurist songwriters who nod to the ideas of forward looking writers and artists in their work, a loose lineage that could include musicians like Robert Wyatt, Scott Walker, or Richard Youngs.

                                      A few words about the title: Dispossession, a word that has a foothold in both the spiritual and material worlds. A rite of exorcism, a casting out of spirits; but also a state of extreme economic marginalization, of being set adrift in the world with nowhere or nothing of one’s own. In mythic terms, humans are the dispossessed—this tribe cast out of an edenic paradise. And in another cosmology, to live in accord with the truth is to acknowledge that ultimately nothing is ours. Back in the here and now it’s a state much of the world is in, and one the rest of it may be headed for, barring we find a way to cast the “demons” out.

                                      Pink Playground

                                      Destination Ecstasy

                                      From Houston, TX comes Pink Playground, a new band that makes videos instead of playing live, and runs in the tradition of shoegaze and ethereal sounds right back to the earliest Jesus and Mary Chain demos. Guitars, synths, otherworldly vocals and drum machines collude to the proto-noise pop moment of the mid ’80s, and charges forth as if the band’s members were born to play in that vein. Ear-splitting volume and spun sugar melodies fill the space with pink pollen blizzard dynamics so thick and hazy you might need a dust mask to power through them, songs so sweet that they sting, manners inverted into a new form of aggression.

                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                      LP Info: Hand numbered vinyl with download code.

                                      Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch

                                      Andrew Graham's Good Word

                                      Graham's first release since the dissolution of RTFO Bandwagon, the elegantly primitive Columbus, OH folk band that most recently released "Dums Will Survive" (March 2009) on Texas' Dull Knife Records. While RTFO Bandwagon heavily reiterated the elements already present in Graham's guitar frameworks with the bass, drums, and even the vocal melodies, Swarming Branch takes a more delicate approach. Throughout "Good Word", each instrument plays only one note at a time, freeing up space in the mix and ensuring that every note is intentional.

                                      To realize this detailed new sound, Graham brought in drummer Ryan Jewell (Terribly Empty Pockets, Pink Reason, Psychedelic Horseshit) and piano wizard Dane Terry. A number of other musicians come and go over the course of the record, including bassist Chris Burney (the Sun) and experimental composer Larry Marotta on slide guitar.

                                      FORMAT INFORMATION

                                      Ltd LP Info: US import - hand numbered edition of 500 copies.


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